Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Raymond Panas


Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women. In 2017, breast, lung and bronchus, prostate, and colorectal cancers accounted for almost 50% of all new cancer cases in the United States. Breast conservation therapy with lumpectomy (i.e., surgery) and adjuvant radiation therapy is commonly used as treatment for early stage breast cancer. However, side effects such as pain and poor sleep quality can affect quality of life for breast cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment. The main purpose of this quantitative study, using the health belief model (HBM) theoretical framework, was to investigate the correlations between the independent variable of exercise and the dependent variables of pain and sleep quality during radiation treatment. To examine these possible relationships, secondary data from another study were used, Self-Reported Exercise Behavior and Short-Term Patients Outcomes in Women Undergoing Radiation Treatment for Operable Breast Cancer by principal investigator Janet K. Horton of the Duke University Health System. The secondary data were analyzed using logistic regression and multiple linear regression statistical models. The findings from this study indicate that mild exercise is positively associated with reduced pain level and improved sleep quality and that vigorous exercise does not have a positive association with improved sleep quality. This study provides health practitioners with resources to encourage physical activity in breast cancer patients while undergoing and after radiation treatment. In this way, the study may serve to promote positive social change not only for breast cancer patients, but also for patients with other types of cancer to reduce side effects from radiation treatment.